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  • Writer's pictureJAM

President Mark Edelman, Retiring Jazz Ambassador

As we enter 2024, the Jazz Ambassadors would like to shed light on those who have shepherded this non-profit organization for the good of the community over the past several decades. We begin by honoring retiring president / treasurer, Mark Edelman.

Mark has enjoyed a long and successful career in show business. He played bass in some of the top soul bands in the area, while still attending Shawnee Mission High School. After high school, he attended college and continued his show business forays.

“My first presentation in Kansas City—while I was still in law school—involved a student activities-funded presentation of an off-Broadway show called ’Lemmings.’ After the show, the cast came to my apartment at 44th and Walnut, where my neighbors joined me in welcoming them. Three of the actors there were Chevy Chase, John Belushi, and Christopher Guest. The following year, they were all on or writing for SNL.”

In the late 1970s Mark founded Theater League, Inc., a not-for-profit community-based performing arts organization that presented the best of Broadway to Kansas City audiences for 42 years. He built the Quality Hill Playhouse and produced 12th Street Jump; a syndicated public radio show launched by KCUR-FM and heard weekly on public radio stations around the country for over a decade.

As President of the Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors, Mark established some very popular programs. “Gig Grants” were handed out to hundreds of out-of-work musicians during the recent pandemic, this was funded through a “Virtual Tip Jam” on the KCJA site and through other donations.

Mark’s, “Jazz Futures” are made up of monthly live performances, throughout the school year, where area colleges jazz studies programs are encouraged to bring their best combos to local nightclubs to show off their talent. The Jazz Ambassadors then give the programs a significant donation to the institution’s jazz program.

In 2021, to stimulate excitement about “getting back out in the clubs,” Mark created The “JAM Awards”. Now beginning its fourth year, this program has grown steadily, and draws larger crowds each year.

We thank Mark Edelman for his leadership, his dedication to the arts, and for these continuing programs that raise awareness for our beloved organization and highlight talented area jazz artists.

Jazz Futures continues on January 18th, when Brett Jackson brings the popular KCKCC jazz band to The Uptown Lounge, 34th and Main Street in Kansas City. Nominations for the 2024 JAM Awards begin in June, of 2024.


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